Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Flip-Flop Money Changer

The first morning in Togo we discovered we had acquired another guide! We now had a guide for the guide for the driver. Jacques was needed to show us the Creative Arts College and our way up the mountain to an Eco-village. I wondered what Germaine’s role was….besides flirting uncontrollably with Francis, the driver. At least they didn’t all try to sit on each others’ laps in the car. Already, Jeny, Gaynor and I were squashed in the back seat. Jacques appeared to have his own moto, on which he performed gymnastics, until it developed a puncture, as he led us for a few kilometres up the winding roads through forest. This is the other side of the Volta Region Mountains.

We reached the Creative Arts College having made it clear that we didn’t have any CFAs, (Communaute Financiere Africaine – currency used by 8 French speaking West African countries), and needed to change some Ghana Cedis. Having discovered there were items we wanted to buy, we processed back into Kpalime to the ATM and bank. Of course, the ATM didn’t like our cards and the Foreign Exchange was closed. Never mind someone knew a trader who would change some cash for us and we followed him down the road and into a flip-flop shop. Seriously, that is all he sold, watched over by large poster images of Osama Bin Laden and Yasser Arafat. He changed Cedis and Sterling at a reasonable rate and we left happily with well worn notes that all of our guides recognised as genuine CFAs – (approximately 700 to the £, by the way). Back at the college I was showing interest in buying a djembe (African drum) and Jacques offered his assistance. I was treated to a different intricate solo performance on each of the 6 djembe available before he pronounced one of them as being the best. Naturally, I bought it, knowing it would never be played as well as that again in its existence.
The waterfall was as beautiful as those on the Ghanaian side of these mountains and we continued on to the Eco-village.

Kola Nuts
 Having enjoyed fresh pineapple and calabashes of Tchoukoutou (Togo’s pito) we were ready for a short walk to admire and learn about the variety of trees there. We saw coco, coffee, kola nut, mustard nut, grapefruit and others all in small area of dense, lush forest. 

Many of the houses in this village had beautifully painted shutters and doors.

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